Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Book Review - 'Cordelia Codd: Not Just the Blues'

by Claire O'Brien
Published by Orchard Books

It is an unequalled joy; discovering a completely wonderful book when you are not looking for one. When unpacking a recent delivery at the library, I was dutifully processing all the usual returns from other libraries and among them was a shiny new junior novel, for my library, unopened and unread. Now, I like children's books A LOT and am always on the look out for new lovelies to love and rave about but this particular book didn't seem like my usual cup of tea and yet I found that instead of putting it aside for shelving, I was putting it aside to take home. I don't quite know why I did. I didn't know of the author, but I recognised the cover as being illustrated by the unfailingly talented David Roberts, so I knew the book shouldn't let me down.

When I got a moment to open the book I was won over in the first page and although I didn't have very many minutes I raced through the first chapter and was filled with the delightful knowledge that I was going to love this book, and I do. 

Cordelia Codd (Coco to her parents) is a delightful young lady who gets you on side from the beginning and you can sympathise with everything she does, says and feels. Although the book is aimed at children from 9-12 I would recommend it to anyone over 9, full stop. Claire's writing is wonderful. No sentence is unnecessary or lacking in interest. It is a rich and expert piece of writing, packed with quirky expressions, and charming notions. 

Cordelia lets the reader in on the most awful year of her life so far; an 'ELEPHANT DUMP of a year,' starting a new school, her Dad leaving home and her Mum struggling to keep her head above water. Due to Cordelia's wounded heart and FURIOUS RED FEELINGS, she ends up losing all her friends and getting into trouble at school. Cordelia's thoughts and feelings flow across the page and your eyes will skip happily from word to word, helped along by regular variations in font and many capitalisations, as Cordelia vents and shouts about all her (many) vexations and heartaches. One shining light of hope is her one and only, new-found, friend, the class nerd, Drusilla, with whom she hatches a plan to GET HER DAD BACK!

Cordelia is a well-crafted character that I whole-heartedly believe in. She is not just irritable and moody, her emotions have depth and although her feelings can run away with her in the heat of the moment, she has a big, soft heart and is very sensitive to those around her. I love Cordelia's passion for design and her eager appetite for elegant dresses and interesting costumes, as she endlessly sketches outfits from classic old films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's. 

The pace of the book is unrelenting. Everything that takes place or is mentioned is relevant to the plot and yet the book still maintains a conversational and informal tone, gathering momentum as events lead to a climax in Cordelia's mission to reunite her parents. 

Whilst reading this book I have been: chuckling, smiling inside, welling up with tears and generally being completely captivated.


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